Screenshot of GarageBand '08

As an amateur musician who loves to play, compose, and record music, I love GarageBand. I bought my Mac in 2007, so I am using GarageBand version 4 (the current version is 6). After a brief hiatus, I have started using GarageBand again, and decided to post what I’d like to see changed. If anyone is using a newer version, definitely let me know if GarageBand has improved in these areas. It’s also possible GarageBand has these features and I just don’t know about them! Again, please let me know.

Here are my thoughts:

  • Instrument Selection:

    I own all of the Jam Packs (except for Vocals), and generally the selection of software instruments is phenomenal. I’ve spent hours playing around with the different sounds. They’ve done a great job creating realistic sounds that are fun to play. However, for all the variety, they have some stunning omissions. For example, while they offer many exotic instruments such as a Chinese Erhu Violin, Japanese Shakuhachi Flute, and even two varieties of the Turkish Lute, surprisingly absent are some common instruments such as a trumpet or a trombone. While they have great sounding orchestral trumpet or trombone sections, the individual instruments are absent.

    Also, many common instruments that were included in the original GarageBand could use an update. The tenor sax, for example, is only marginally better than any old keyboard sound.

    One possible solution to this problem is using MIDI instruments. I’ve used it for a trumpet sound - it beats the trumpet section when you’re looking for an individual trumpet. (Instructions how to do this here)

  • Individual Track Mixing:

    Another great feature of GarageBand is that you can change the master volume throughout the song. This is useful for fade-ins and fade-outs, as well as inserting dynamics. However, you can’t adjust the volume of individual tracks throughout the song - only once for the entire song.

    One way to work around this is to create another track of the same instrument, and divide your audio into chunks. This way, you can have two different volumes. It is okay, but not the best.

  • Tempo changes:

    This, I believe, exists in newer versions of GarageBand. It is pretty frustrating to not be able to have tempo changes. No good ways to work around that.

  • Speed:

    This is probably the biggest annoyance. It takes very long to load a song as well as an instrument. This probably has less to do with GarageBand and more to do with my 4 year old computer. Surely a newer machine and a newer GarageBand will be faster. In the meantime, the tips in the help article on optimizing GarageBand performance work pretty well.

  • MIDI Delay:

    Again, this one doesn’t fall on GarageBand as much as it does on my hardware. I’ve got a very old “midiman” midi to USB. The delay from the time I hit a key to the time I hear it on GarageBand is small, but sometimes noticeable. For what I do, it isn’t too big a problem. But it would be nice if there was no delay.

A few other minor things: If it were up to me, I would improve the transcribing/notation features, add more metronome options, and keep making common instruments sound more realistic. The advertised guitar amp effects in the new GarageBand don’t appeal to me at all, although I’m sure some of the other less advertised features will. Please share any thoughts you may have, I’d love to hear from you.